The Tamil Nadu government has rolled out the draft state Forest Policy aimed at preserving forests and wildlife, conservation of ecosystems, and climate change mitigation among others in the state.
According to the Vision Tamil Nadu 2023 document released by former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa in 2014, preserving the ecology was one of the themes of the document which aims at increasing forest cover, protection of wetlands and other waterbodies in the state.
The draft forest policy rolled out by Chief Minister K Palaniswami would work on the objectives which include conservation of biodiversity, wildlife, rehabiliation and restoration of degraded forests, coastal ecosystem conservation among others.
The policy seeks the involvement of local tribal communities in protection, conservation and wildlife management. Tamil Nadu has about 30.92 per cent of the forest declared as 'protected areas' and has 15 wildlife sanctuaries, five National parks, 15 bird sanctuaries, three biosphere reserves, four project tiger areas.
In accordance with the Nation Forest Policy, 1988 which says that the area under forest and tree cover be enhanced to 33 per cent of the geographical area of the country, Tamil Nadu will formulate innovative strategies for increasing its forest and tree cover from the present 21.76 per cent to 33 per cent by 2030.
The Forest department would also develop mangroves in the state as 'bio-shield' along the coast, the policy said, adding Tamil Nadu would design programmes to encourage tree planting on private lands. The policy would also seek to provide a significant role for women in forest management.
Under this initiative, steps would be taken to increase their representation in Executive Committee of Village Forest Councils and enhance the number of councils headed by women.
"Greater employment opportunities for women will be made available to improve their financial status and also to enhance their role in household decision making", it said.
Noting that the objectives of the forest policy can be achieved only with substantial investments, the policy said, "the National Forestry Commission has recommended allocation of 2.5 per cent of the budget for forest and wildlife improvement".
"The state government will strive to increase the budget allotment to the Forest department every year so as to fulfill the goals of the policy," it said.